UW Student Scientists Connect Individual Research with Local Murals
Press release - January 25, 2018 - read release below or view release on UWyo News.
Scientists have long appreciated the arts and used art forms in their practice. And, even though scientists strive for objectivity, they bring their own perspectives and preconceptions to public art, according to a University of Wyoming research scientist.
UW graduate students enrolled in last fall semester’s science communication class, “The Art of Science Communication,” did just that.
Dan Albrecht-Mallinger, a UW doctoral student, who studies birds, stands with artist Talal Cockar’s “Tierra y Libertad” mural in downtown Laramie. Albrecht-Mallinger, through a science communication class assignment, developed a 60-second audio guide relating the feeding behavior of the birds he studies to the mural’s depiction of cultivation and abundance. (Doug Eddy Photo)
Doctoral candidates -- specializing in topics ranging from soil science, birds and bees to black holes, frogs and trees -- were tasked with selecting pieces from the seven downtown murals in the Laramie Mural Project and connecting them to their research, says Bethann Garramon Merkle, an associate research scientist with the Wyoming Migration Initiative on the UW campus.
Garramon Merkle, the class’s lead instructor, says, by researching, writing and recording audio guides for a selection of public artworks in downtown Laramie, the students learned how to take their research “beyond science, connecting it with something integral to the Laramie community -- our murals.”
Author: Chris Petranek, a PhD candidate studying bumble bee physiology
"That some scientists’ social media following outstrips their citation count should not imply a lack of credibility. If all scientists were more Kardashian-like in their ability to influence the public, we might not
be living in a “post-truth” era."
For better or worse, carefully curating an internet presence is a key component of any professional career in 2017. This wholesome avocation can range from maintaining a savvy personal website to merely making sure your Facebook profile won’t preclude an interview. Social media outlets are a great way for others to collect information about you, so you may as well use them to your advantage. For most, that means leveraging personality and interesting content to advertise a product or advocate for a desired outcome. If you know the ropes, social media platforms are great for getting your message to reach content consumers worldwide.
Such an inexpensive means for distributing information widely seems especially well suited to scientists seeking to engage the public. To this end, social media can be so effective some scientists are concerned that online presence is overshadowing the importance of quality research. Thus, the “Kardashian Index”, for pitting online communication reach against citation count.
Neil Hall proposed the "K-index" in 2014 to measure scientists' social media fame (# of twitter followers) with respect to their scientific renown (approximated by citation count).
Reassuringly, these preliminary data suggest one’s social media popularity is correlated with their popularity in the scientific community. However, that some scientists’ social media following outstrips their citation count (“Kardashians”) should not imply a lack of credibility. If all scientists were more Kardashian-like in their ability to influence the public, we might not be living in a “post-truth” era.
“Post-truth” refers to the salient observation by nerds nationwide that lay-audiences are not swayed by torrents of numerical observations. There is thus ongoing debate in the scientific community about whether celebrity influencers are useful for communicating science issues broadly via social media. Some say that the ends justify the means, but others are hesitant to have non-specialists speak out about pressing issues in science (Galetti & Costa-Pereira 2017, Mojarad 2017).
Author: Chelsea Duball, PhD candidate studying soils
"By delving deeper into the applications of science communication, I have improved my scientific methods, and it has encouraged me to further incorporate creativity into my work, expand my network of audiences, and to conduct research outside traditional scientific means."
Greetings from "Laradise"!
My name is Chelsea Duball and I am the girl on the scene this week. In this week’s segment of the blog, I look forward to addressing topics and discussions that range widely across the SciComm spectrum. As I take the lead this week, I have two major goals: to focus on the different perceptions and approaches to science communication and to reveal the mighty power of interdisciplinary research.
Author: Dan Albrecht-Mallinger, PhD candidate studying forest birds in Panama
"Tropical biology is a new topic for many audiences, and
climate change can be difficult to describe and discuss. My professional goal is to introduce these topics approachably, accurately, and humorously when possible, so that people
can understand the strange wonder of tropical birds, and
how they are responding to the warming globe."
Howdy, Internet! I'm Dan Albrecht-Mallinger, and I'll be taking the reins of the Science Communication Blog for the coming week. Most of my posts will be discussing public art, public science, and how scientists and non-scientists interact with these projects, but I'll use this first post to introduce myself.
Author: Melanie Torres, PhD candidate studying amphibians
Hello everyone, and welcome back to the University of Wyoming's science communication blog, Engage Laramie Science!
Today, I want to introduce some of the aspiring science communicators via an assignment we completed last week. We were instructed to interview each other and produce around a 60 second sound bite about the researcher in question and their project. The goals were to practice interviewing and learning how to present scientific research to a non-scientific audience. I personally think we did a fantastic job accomplishing those objectives!
I've embedded a couple of those clips below, and I'll be slowly adding more over the next few days. For this post, I'm introducing Rich Walker and Bryan Maitland. Both Rich and Bryan are studying various aspects of aquatic ecosystems, which include human impacts and community structure. Have a listen, and feel free to comment on their research or if you have any questions!
Introduction recorded and produced by Chris Petranek.
Introduction recorded and produced by Dan Albrecht
A blog and website by graduate students from science disciplines and departments throughout the University of Wyoming. We hope you connect with our science communication and engagement efforts. Please let us know what you think of the site!